WASHINGTON, DC -- U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman today announced that DOE will invest up to $375 million in three new Bioenergy Research Centers that will be located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Madison, Wisconsin; and near Berkeley, California. The Centers are intended to accelerate basic research in the development of cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels, advancing President Bushs Twenty in Ten Initiative, which seeks to reduce U.S. gasoline consumption by 20 percent within ten years through increased efficiency and diversification of clean energy sources. The Department plans to fund the Centers for the first five years of operation (Fiscal Years 2008-2013).
These Centers will provide the transformational science needed for bioenergy breakthroughs to advance President Bushs goal of making cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive with gasoline by 2012, and assist in reducing Americas gasoline consumption by 20 percent in ten years, Secretary Bodman said. The collaborations of academic, corporate, and national laboratory researchers represented by these centers are truly impressive and I am very encouraged by the potential they hold for advancing Americas energy security.
To bring the latest tools of the biotechnology revolution to bear to advance clean energy production, the Centers will be supported by multidisciplinary teams of top scientists. A major focus will be on understanding how to reengineer biological processes to develop new, more efficient methods for converting the cellulose in plant material into ethanol or other biofuels that serve as a substitute for gasoline. This research is critical because future biofuels production will require the use of feedstocks more diverse than corn, including cellulosic material like agricultural residues, grasses, poplar trees, inedible plants, and non-edible portions of crops.